Saturday, February 21, 2009

A DAY TO REMEMBER: February 19th, 2009

This morning I just can't stop crying. I opened the Spokesman Review and on the front page is a picture of the runners at SCC running in memory of their beloved coach, Erik Anderson. Erik was killed in a freak accident this last Thursday, February 19th. February 19th is also my Mom's birthday.

Erik Anderson was a kindred soul, a colleague of mine for 12 years. He was unassuming and had a smile that lit up all outdoors. He and I were on the same page when it came to encouraging students. As one student said, "He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself," Another said, and this was a young man I held while he cried on Thursday..."Erik was my father, my mother. What do I have left?" This young man escaped from the violence of war torn Sudan, making his way to Washington in 2000. He lived with a number of foster families and finally came to SCC. He was a raw talent and became Erik Anderson's special project.

Thursday, the 19th, when three hysterical former students found me and said that "Coach has been killed"...I literally raced to the Lair and was confronted by a scene out of a horror film, a nightmare . Police were everywhere, fire fighters and medics were around, the athletic department was holding watch in abject horror, students were pressed into fetal position balls sobbing.

How could this wonderful person, this phenominal teacher, this beloved coach be an instant? There were and are no words to express the loss.

What I will remember about Erik is his lack of arrogance, his genuine smile, his inclusive spirit, and the authentic kindness he displayed to everyone. I know lots of athletes who are judgemental and critical of those who are not in shape or don't make the right choices. Erik was quite the opposite. Where some might look at those who are overweight with distain and disgust, Erik sought to educate them (us) with a loving hand. He knew that people are more than sports, they are a combination of heart, mind and spirit. He was a dreammaker, not a dreambreaker. People felt loved in his presence.

I saw Erik a number of weeks ago. He called me quite unexpectedly to see if I could talk to him about one of his female athletes. One of the older coaches said that "Linda might have some help to offer" him. When he phoned he humbly asked if someone who was so busy helping everyone could take the time to meet with him. He didn't want to inconvenience me. He was confronting a very awkward situation with this student athlete and wanted to handle it properly. Normally, he said, when it came to running, he would know what to do. But this issue wasn't about running. He needed some help with communicating a tough message. Interestingly enough, I knew the student we talked. I will always remember how grateful he was for my insights.

That was Erik in a nutshell. He always wanted to do the right thing.

February 19th has always held a special place in my heart. When I woke up this February 19th my first thoughts were about my Mom. I miss her every day. Her love and devotion shaped my life. She was my rock and my greatest supporter. She wanted to know who I really was, how I really felt. Erik Anderson was someone my Mom would have loved.

Things won't ever be quite the same at SCC. One of our finest is gone. He "got" what it meant to be a teacher and a coach. Those roles, along with being a husband and father, were sacred to him. I will think of him often and fondly. I will see his hard work in the eyes of his students and the dedication of those he coached.

His death reminds me of this quotation:

"Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It helps us to recognize how much we need each other and share how much we love each other."

God Bless!
Love Linda

1 comment:

Our Family said...

I am so sorry that this happened. I can't imagine what his wife and children are going through! Our prayers are with his family and students...

I miss Nana.

Love, me

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

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